I heard a lot about Samir before I actually met him. It seemed that everyone on campus had dated him, or was dating him now.
"A professor of political science," Mark the Optometrist said. "He's published a ton of books!"
"Thick, thick biceps!" Roy the Farmboy said. "I don't know where he works out, but believe me, it's working!"
"He's famous!" Jimmy, the Bodybuilder on Crutches, said "The State Department calls him for advice!"
"Total active, mostly Greek," Mark's ex-boyfriend Shaun said. "And ---" He spread his hands wide to demonstrate Samir's sausage size.
I had to meet this guy!
"Do you mind if I ask him out?" I asked Shaun.
"Sure, go ahead. But I don't have his number. You don't call him -- he calls you!"
Have you ever heard of anything so cool?
I dropped by the Political Science Department, looked up his office hours -- and chickened out.
I smiled instinctively. He gave me a cool look of non-recognition and pushed on.
Roy nudged me. "That was Samir, my ex-boyfriend."
This was the famous Samir? "Why didn't you say hello? He acted like he didn't know you."
"He always does that in public. He's a professor."
"Really? That's a little weird." In the 1980s all gay professors at Indiana University were closeted: if the administration found out, they would be fired instantly. So they refused to research gay topics, they invited lady friends to faculty functions, they avoided Bullwinkle's, our local gay bar -- but refusing to acknowledge your gay friends in public was extreme!
The next day Roy called me. "You were a big hit with Samir."
"You're kidding -- he saw me for like ten seconds."
"No -- he was impressed. He asked me to set up a meeting at the Fireside in Indianapolis next Friday night."
I know a dark, secluded place, a place where no one knows your face!
Samir was sitting at a table -- in a sweater and jeans, not a business suit, but still very formal -- with a woman! He introduced her as his friend Emily.
A date an hour away from Indianapolis, with a "beard"! Talk about closeted!
We shook hands, and he offered us red wine. We asked for Cokes instead.
"I'd love to hear about your research," I said. "It must be fascinating..."
His eyes shot about the room. "We must not discuss our work here. Enough to know that we are both at the University."
What was wrong with talking about your job on a date? "So, where are you from?" Viju asked.
"Originally I am from Egypt, but I lived in London for some time, and I have been in the U.S. for eight years."
"I love the Middle East!" I exclaimed. "I'm in first year Arabic now. I had my first sexual experience with a boy from Lebanon."
His eyes shot about the room again. "Please, we don't discuss sex here. And at any rate, Egypt is not strictly in the Middle East. It is the Maghreb."
This date wasn't going well. "I thought Muslims didn't drink," Viju said gesturing at his wine glass.
"Another misconception. About 30% of the people in Egypt are Coptic Christians, myself included."
Um...ok, this guy was a little harsh. "Do you find it hard to reconcile your Coptic faith with being gay?"
What did half my friends see in this guy?
We had dinner -- Samir paid -- and excused ourselves to go cruising at the Varsity Lounge.
A few days Samir called. "It was very pleasant getting to know you the other night. Would you come over this evening? We can discuss the Middle East. I have some books in Arabic that you might like."
After the frosty experience at dinner, I was hesitant, but ok.
When we were alone in his house, Samir was a different person altogether -- smiling, effervescent, loquacious.
He served homemade basboosa (a sort of cornbread with honey).
He showed me some Egyptian movie magazines, and an Arabic translation of Tom Sawyer that he had since he was a boy.
He talked about growing up in the Ain Shams district of Cairo, sneaking into movies with beefcake stars, his first sexual experience with his boarding-school roommate, coming out to his elderly grandmother.
Then we went into the bedroom, where I went down on his very thick Bratwurst. He tried to get me to turn over for anal. When I refused, he said "It doesn't matter. Just being with a man is what counts, don't you think?"
Afterwards Samir held me tightly in his arms all night, letting go only when I had to get up for the bathroom.
I left in the morning with my head spinning, swooning with infatuation. This was the guy I had always hoped to meet!
So I dropped by the Political Science Department around noon, hoping to ask him to lunch.
He passed me in the hall with a cool look of non-recognition.